"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible." Hebrews 11:1-3
Having a “word for the year” is not a new practice. For years people have begun their year with a word and used it as a way of bettering their character, being intentional with their actions day to day, or as a lens with which to view the world around them. Patience, celebrate, discomfort, change, and present are all words I’ve either heard someone use or have used myself. When January 1st came along, I could see a shift in the faces of my friends and family. It was time to restart. Though the change of year does not bring about a change of situation by any means, there is a freshness to January that calls us to reset and begin again. So when 2020 ended, it was as if a wave of optimism swept over us all. And we had our words for the year ready.
For 2021 I’ve decided to focus on the word ‘faith’. This past November I listened to C3 NYC’s episode “A Beautiful Story” released in October of 2018. As the title stated, songwriter Mia Fieldes explained her incredible love story that was marked by prayer, faith, and blessing. Hebrews 11:1-3 was mentioned as a way of explaining the “evidence hunt” she was on. Essentially, as she prayed big prayers, she looked for evidence of God working and proof of his goodness, which is what Hebrews 11:1 is all about.
Listening to Mia’s story caused me to pause and reflect on my faith. Thinking back to past summers when I’ve led bible clubs or gone on mission trips, I realized that I was always hesitant to pray big prayers. Throughout the week at Backyard Bible Clubs you would hear people’s stories of praying specific prayers and God showing up. I remember one time, a girl said she prayed for Matthew, Andrew, Thomas, and Michael, which were completely random names, to show up to their club, and the next day in walked four boys with those names. On mission trips, people would get purposeful with prayer and ask to lead someone to Christ and the next day you’d see them praying with someone on the side of the road. To me, praying specific, big prayers always seemed like I was testing God. Feeling nervous about praying in this way translated beyond summer when I’d do clubs and mission trips, and into all aspects of my life. I believed in a God that was all-powerful and all-loving but not all-powerful and all-loving to me specifically. Because beyond not wanting to test God, there was always a fear that He wouldn’t answer my prayers; that I’d get to club the next day and the ten kids I prayed for were just five, that a friend group would never come, that my pain from previous relationships would never go away. There was a disconnect in my mind from who God was in the Bible and who He could be in my life. But I see now after years of praying small prayers - prayers that wouldn’t “test” God - is that there is a difference between “God, if you let it snow in Texas I know you’re real” and “God I pray for complete healing in this broken part of my life.” We have a powerful God, that is eager to answer our prayers and no prayer is too big for Him.
And so I dedicate this year to praying big prayers. Whether it is for change or growth in an area that seems immovable, to finish a project that seems impossible, to find joy among complete chaos- I want to pray. And as Hebrews 11:1 explains that there is evidence to be found where God is faithful, I want to actively seek how God is working. Because faith is both the deep trust in God as well as God keeping promises, working in our lives and providing tangible moments of His love. It is a two-way street, a two-sided relationship.
I feel like finishing by just saying how thankful I am. I am so thankful that God is a patient God, that he still loves me even though I haven’t had the faith to bring my big prayers to him. I am thankful that my God is powerful, that nothing is too difficult for Him. I am thankful that He is loving, that He cares about me specifically and His blessings extend to me despite my sins.
With that, I wish you a happy New Year! I hope your 2021 is full of God faithfully showing you new things through your “word”. As for faith, I am praying big prayers that whoever reads this may be inspired to see God as a personal God who is excited and ready to show up in your life in ways you haven't seen before.
1 John 5:14 "And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him."
John 15:7 "If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you."
John 15:16 "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you."
Mark 11:24 "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours."
Psalm 55:22 "Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved."
Matthew 21:21 "And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen."
Matthew 7:7-8 "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened."